Half of farmers ‘have no plan for succession’

Almost half of farmers in the North admit they have nobody in mind to take over their farms when they retire.

A survey conducted among 442 Ulster Farmers Union members has raised awareness about the sometimes forgotten issue of who is going to take over the family farm.

In somewhat concerning results, 48% of farm businesses contacted had no successor in mind.

Farmers were contacted by the Ulster Farmers Union and the Young Farmers Clubs of Ulster to assess the situation regarding succession.

Succession proves to be a really hard topic to discuss on family farms and is often overlooked by the older and younger generations.

However, the lack of succession planning is a risk to farm businesses and the industry as a whole.

The Ulster Farmers Union (UFU) and the Young Farmers Clubs of Ulster say they are continuing to work to establish a land mobility scheme to link young farmers with older farmers keen to retire but who have no succession plan.

Of those surveyed who had not identified a successor, 53% said they would be interested in a succession/inheritance planning advisory service.

The evidence suggests that farmers often rely on familiar short-term mechanisms, such as conacre, and largely overlook better options, such as partnership and long-term lease arrangements.

One in five farmer who had identified a successor have planned for the transfer of the farm via a will. However, delaying the transfer until death could discourage young farmers from investing fully in the farm.

UFU president Barclay Bell said: “This does not come as a huge surprise but it does confirm that we are on the right track with our efforts to raise awareness about succession planning and a land mobility scheme that would link young farmers with older farmers seeking to retire.”

Of those farmers who surveyed who had not identified a successor, 61% had not sought any advice or information. However, more than half (53%) said they would be interested in hearing what a succession/inheritance planning advisory service had to say.

Mr Bell added: “More education and awareness around options for land mobility and land consolidation are needed.

“The evidence suggests that farmers often rely on familiar short-term mechanisms, such as conacre, and largely overlook better options, such as partnership and long-term lease arrangements. This possibly reflects a lack of understanding and confidence.”


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